On alternate years the Auto Club de Monaco strangles the city of Monte Carlo in advance of the FIA Formula 1 Grand Prix for a few days of delicious exercise of historic cars on the Monaco GP course.
It is one of the most evocative events on the historic racing calendar: running flat out in historic cars that once raced … or might have raced … on the streets of Monaco. The limited eligibility is important in preserving the historic context of the event. It has created the premier venue for competing with historic GP cars, encouraging their preservation, preparation and competition.
And make no mistake, it is serious competition.
For those not familiar with the GP Historique, in even-numbered years the AC de Monaco sets up the F1 GP circuit a week or two early, then fully staffs it with cranes, Intervention corner workers, medical personnel and a cadre of thousands of security and support personnel. There are seven classes with three half hour sessions for each: practice on Friday, Qualifying on Saturday and races on Sunday. Each class gets the potential for an hour and a half of track time on the world’s most famous racing circuit.
Ste. Devote, Massenet, Casino, Mirabeau, Portier, the Tunnel and Nouvelle Chicane, Tabac, Piscine and Rascasse, it’s a chance for drivers to experience the most famous landmarks in GP history. Some circuits have one or two famous turns: at Monaco every bend, kink and wiggle is famous.
After attending the Bonhams, RM Sotheby’s and [pointless] Coys auctions on Sunday I walked the track’s periphery from Casino to Ste. Devote. Here are some photos:
Pre-war Group A at Casino Square
Urs Muller’s Maserate 6CM
Robs Lamplough, Bugatti Type 37A
All the ERAs on the earth seemed to be in Monaco. This is Paddins Dowling’s R5B, the eventual race winner by 17.5 seconds.
Michael Gans’ ERA R1B
Anthony Sinopoli’s Maserati 6CM/4CM
Like riding a sidecar….
Nicholas Topliss Era R4A
Group D, 1961-65 GP cars at Mirabeau haute (Upper Mirabeau before the hairpin)
Charles Nearburg, Brabham BT11 driven by Bob Anderson at Monaco, 7th in 1964, 9th in 1965
Michael Kerry’s 1961 Emeryson Climax pursued by James Timms’ Cooper T53 Climax
Cooper T53 of James Timms, ex-Masten Gregory, Camoradi team
Eventual race winner Andy Middlehurst in the 1962 Lotus 25 Climax
Ferrari 1512, ex-John Surtees and Lorenzo Bandini of James Colasacco
James King’s 1963 Brabham BT7 Climax, 3rd overall
Dan Collins Lotus 21 Climax
Michel Gendre, Lotus 24 Climax
John Clark Cooper T56 Climax
Kurt Delbene, BRP 64 BRM
Also Group D in the Fairmont Hairpin
John Romano, Bragham BT11 Climax, ex-Denny Hulme and Jack Brabham.
They are so tiny.
Reach out and touch me, Michael Kerry in the 1961 Emeryson Climax
Colasacco’s Ferrari 1512 has an ear-splitting shriek, on or off the gas.
James King in the 1963 Brabham BT7 Climax carves the hairpin, just right.
Andy Middlehurst in the Lotus 25 Climax on the way to a .608 second win over …
… Joe Colassaco in Larry Aurianna’s 1964 Ferrari 1512
Never heard of this one, Iain Rowley’s 1961 Assegai Alfa Romeo, one appearance in the South African GP in 1961, but it’s enough to get it on the circuit at Monte Carlo.
Intrepid photographer enjoying a cigar break between races.
Group B, Front-engine GP cars before 1961 exiting Lower Mirabeau and at Portier, the entrance to the tunnel
Maserati 250F of Jeffrey O’Neil
Lotus 16 (one of 5 competing today) of Max Smith Hilliard
Scarab F1 of Julian Bronson
Cooper T23 of Steve Russell
Talbot T26C of Klaus Lehr, capable of laying rubber out of Portier well into the tunnel.
Ferrari 246 of Alex Birkenstock, a Monaco GP entrant driven by Phil Hill
Yes, it really is this steep.
Maserati A6GCM of Julia de Baldanza
Cooper T20 of Eddie McGuire
Gordini T15 of Eric LeRoy
Alta F2 of Ian Nuthall; “Alta” not Alfa
Cooper T20 of Barry Wood followed by the Connaught A of Michael Milligan
1959 Tec Mec of Tony Wood
The Talbot T26C again: it is a wonderful-sounding, hairy-handling machine.
Maserati 250F of Niklas Halusa
These old cars left a bit of oil on the track and the track workers do an Iggy Shuffle to work the oil dry into the track.
In the best traditions of Hesketh Racing, a Party Boat.
Group E, 1966-72 GP cars, longer race for the longer of 12 laps or 35 minutes, shot from the Nouvelle Chicane at the end of the Tunnel
Jurgen Boden’s ’71 Ferrari 312B
Katsuaki Kubota’s ’71 Lotus 72
Paolo Barilla’s ’70 ex-Clay Regazzoni Ferrari 312B
Andy Soucek’s 1970 BRM P153 ex-Pedro Rodriguez
Michael Lyons’ Surtees TS9
Adrian Newey’s [you may have heard of him, apparently skipping Barcelona for a more satisfying event] 1969 Lotus 49B, ex-Graham Hill
A deTomaso F1 from 1970 driven by Paul Grant
Chris MacAllister’s 1967 Lotus 49, ex-Jim Clark
The flying saucer front wing March 701 of Bjorn Wirdheim
Joaquin Folch-Rusinol’s 1972 Yardley McLaren M196, ex-Hulme, Revson, Scheckter
Charles Nearburg’s [Him? Again?] Brabham BT33, ex-Denny Hulme
Barilla’s ear drum-destroying Ferrari 312B
Dayton Duncan’s 1970 Brabham BT33, ex-Tim Schenken, 10th at Monaco in 1971
The 1972 Tecno PA123-3 of Manfredo Rossi di Montelera
These guys were going for it, Bjorn Wirdheim’s March 711 and Stuart Hall’s Yardley McLaren M19A
Franco Meiners 1972 Ferrari 312B3
Lunch Break, Celebration of 70 Years of Porsche presented by Chopard and F1 Heritage Parade, yawn, hot dog.
Group C: 1952-1957 front-engine sports cars [in 1952 the FIA adopted F2 specs for Grands Prix; Monaco rebelled, holding its 1952 Monaco GP for sports cars, which injects a different and appreciated variety to the GP Historique.] It rained on the sports car GP Historique.
Without surprise the top eight places in this wet, sloppy race were taken by Brits, who know how to drive cars in the rain.
David Franklin, Ferrari 225S
The exceptionally amazing Cooper-Jaguar T33 Mk I of Chris Ward who drove flawlessly and quickly to a 34 second margin over second place.
Frederic Wakeman, Cooper-Jaguar T38 Mk II
Tony Wood’s be-finned Lister-Bristol
Patrick Blakeney-Edwards 1952 Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica
Michael Willms’ Maserati 300S that came a-cropper shortly after this photo was shot.
Nigel Webb’s Jaguar C-type
Najeeb Khan’s T38 Cooper-Jaguar
Renaat DeClerck’s Frazer Nash Mille Miglia
Martin Halusa’s 1951 Ferrari 212 Export
The amazine Cooper-Jaguar of Chris Ward again … wait ’til you see it in the sluicing rain
Challenging Rascasse and the approach to Anthony Noghes on skinny tires and a slick road.
Martin Hunt sets his HWM-Jaguar up for La Rascasse
Barry Wood in the Lister Bristol
It got even more wet, then I retreated to the Press Room to dry out and watch the opening laps of the Spanish GP from Barcelona.
Group F: GP cars 1971-1976. It was still wet and the organizers, reasonably, took a time-out as the skies cleared and the track dried. These are fast cars and even on wet tires the track was a skating rink. The race was longer, 18 laps or 45 minutes. Photos are from the pit lane overlooking the exit from the swimming pool (Piscine) and at track level.
Gregory Thornton’s Lotus 77
Max Werner’s 1974 Ferrari 312B3
Out of focus, but in your face, Andrew Beaumont’s 1974 Lotus 76
The Shadow DN3 of Yves Saguato
A better shot of Beaumont’s Lotus 76
These were the 70’s when sponsors were joint wrapping paper and even Piero Lottini’s Durex condom sponsored Surtees TS19 Cosworth.
Phillippe Bonny’s Trojan (the constructor, not the condom) T103 leads Cal Meeker’s Williams FW04.
Race winner Michael Lyons in his McLaren M26
Christopher Atkinson finished 18th in his Hesketh 308, but there’s still going to be a party tonight.
Thornton Gregory’s 1976 Lotus 77
Stuart Hall’s McLaren M23 hot on the tail of Michael Lyons’ M26
Martin Lauber’s Shadow DN5
The last race of the day, Group G, 1977-1980 GP cars shot from Sainte Devote where I learned just why this corner is so fraught: just as the cars get on the brakes to clip the apex, the road drops away. There were plenty of front lock-ups even though the track had [mostly] dried.
Martin O’Connell’s race-winning 1980 ATS D4
It’s curious how the sponsorship is ingrained: Warsteiner=Arrows, and it is indeed Jordan Grogor’s 1980 Arrows A3
Joaquin Folch-Rusinol bails out of Ste. Devote, eventually doing an eight-point turn to get back on track instead of a donut.
Two Ensigns duel, Tim Minnich’s N177 and Paul Tattersall’s M179
“Mister John of B” in the 1979 Ligier JS11/15
The Williams FW07B of Mark Hazell
Andrew Beaumont’s Lotus 81 takes the fast line through Ste. Devote
Douglas Mockett’s Wolf WR6
Christophe d’Ansembourg’s ex-James Hunt McLaren M26
Back in the fray.
Jamie Constable’s Shadow DN8, ex-Alan Jones